January 6, 2005
The Goal of Education
The goal of Education as I propose it, is not Encyclopedic Knowledge. It is the transformation of the self and the expansion of the mind, the gaining of wisdom. Education includes informal and formal instruction and anything that teaches us something. This includes every experience in life and everything we see, hear, feel, touch and do. There is a distinction between Information and Knowledge.
Breaking this down, we can see that words included in books are information. When we read a book we have to process that information. Then our brain has to figure out what to do with the information that it is receiving. Does it store it for later retrieval or discard it or recombine it with other information? We decide what to do with the information we are bringing in. At some point information becomes knowledge. Knowledge though is not simply reciting memorized information. Anyone can open the same book we just read and look at the same information. But that doesnít mean they or we Ďknowí this information. To know the information is to internalize it and experience it. If I am reading a book on Engineering principals, I can memorize the formulas and be able to recite them, but if I donít know how to apply the formula to real world situations, I have not really learned anything. Once I apply those formulas, then I have knowledge of that formula and itís not just numbers and variables that Iíve memorized. And my project gets completed with proper engineering principals and is structurally sound. Applying principals learned by others is how the transfer of knowledge from one person to another really takes place. Until itís transferred into Knowledge itís just information.
We are deluged with information every day. What you are reading right now is just more information to process and perhaps convert into knowledge. Today for instance I was given a calendar of the 2000 New York City Marathon by a co-worker to inspire me in my fitness goals. The calendar has a lot of amazing photos and quotes. I had not realized how massive the NYC marathon was. Itís one of those sports I wasnít paying attention to since it didnít relate to my interests over the years. But now I looked at this calendar and wonder how much preparation and training I would need to run a marathon. Well, first Iíd have to run. My workout plan this week does include running, but itís only 1 mile per day at 10 minutes. People running the NYC Marathon run for two to eight hours. Sam Gadless of Boca Raton, Florida, ran the marathon for the first time in 1997 with a time of 8 hours, 10 minutes. He was 85 years old. At 91, he competed in his seventh NYC Marathon, along with his 56-year-old son, Lou, and 26-year-old grandson, Steve. Why is this information important to me? Because itís a story of change. Itís a story of inspiration that means something to me and that I can apply. I am not interested the statistics about ages or how many people run the NYC Marathon each year, though itís interesting trivia. What can be applied to my life is the information on how he changed, and what he was doing and what his attitudes were. Sam said at 91 as he was preparing to start the race, ďIf you can do it, I can do it!Ē But his change didnít happen overnight. He didnít just go out and run a marathon because he thought it would be cool. When he was in his 70ís doctors told him that he was in sorry shape. They said his future didnít look too bright. That was the information he needed to change. He quit smoking and became active. He began researching healthy living. He changed his diet and stopped eating junk food and prepared his own nutritional meals. He began exercising. The information from the doctors was about his current state of health and some projections about how his future would turn out based on that. How Sam applied this information changed his life. Then he knew the truth. Information became knowledge.
To me this information about the NYC Marathon and in particular about Sam Gadless is a meaningless statistic unless I can somehow apply it to my own life. Is there something in it that I can use? His spirit of Ďtry ití is encouraging to me as I am trying to change my own health. Seeing by example that age doesnít mean there are no options and that old age doesnít mean helplessness is encouraging to me to continue on this path of change. His example is proof that living life verses merely existing and surviving is fulfilling and it reinforces many of the ideas that I already have about living a full and balanced life. I donít know Sam Gadless or anything about him besides what Iíve read now. But I donít necessarily have to know him personally in order to apply this information to my life. My mind is already expanded to know itís possible to run a marathon at 91 and that change is good, even if itís the most difficult thing in my life.
If we want to change the world, this is one area on which we need to set a higher priority. The education of our children when they are young should not be only a series of rote memorization of statistics and testing to recite this recorded information, but an expansion of their minds and the creative application of information to lifeís problems and challenges, creating true knowledge.
Posted by carl1236 at January 6, 2005 11:18 PM | Attitude
Carl, I saw your reference to my grandfather Sam in your Blog. I'm glad you were inspired by his story. I'm the 26 (now 32) year old grandson who did the marathon with him and my father for five years. He actually died this past January but I'm glad to see that his story and his legacy will continue to be passed on by people who were able to draw something from the way he turned his life around. Thanks for honoring his memory.
Posted by: Stephen Gadless at March 16, 2005 1:03 PM